Floods in Iraq, May 2013

Cities in southern Iraq have been suffering from floods since early May. The heavy rainfall was unexpected by many, and certainly wasn’t anticipated to continue for so long. In fact it comes after a significant period of drought.

According to the UN:

The Iraqi government on Tuesday 7 May 2013 declared a state of maximum alert in all its service agencies to deal with the floods that have affected several cities in southern Iraq since Sunday (5 May 2013).

The Iraqi Government requested help from UN SPIDER (“United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response”) in obtaining satellite imagery of the flood zones from. The image below shows the Wasit region of Iraq, near to the Iran border.

Satellite Map of Iraq Floods 2013
Satellite Map of Iraq Floods 2013

“This map illustrates satellite-detected areas of flood waters in the Wasit Governorate in eastern Iraq as detected by Resourcesat-2 imagery collected on 7 May 2013. At least 70 towns and villages in the analyzed area are potentially inundated. Multiple sections of roadways are likewise potentially affected. It is likely that flood waters have been systematically underestimated in highly vegetated areas, along main river banks, within built-up urban areas, and in sparse areas of cloud shadow.”

The border province of Wasit has been hit particularly hard, as well as the province of Dhi Qar, some areas of Baghdad and also the province of Maysan. Infrastructure, crops and housing has been destroyed.

Iraqi infrastructure seems equally as unable to deal with the flooding as it was in February when Baghdad and other regions were hit by severe floods.

According to Al Monitor:

In a bid to meet the challenges of this natural disaster, the council of ministers allowed military helicopters to assist the evacuation process from the distressed towns.

While the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources affirmed that dams are set to contain the unexpected downpour, officials in the township of Sheikh Saad announced that a joint dam with the province of Maysan collapsed due to the floods, amid warnings that dozens of towns might become submerged.

However, help is at hand for farmers who may have lost their livelihood. The Ministry of Agriculture in Iraq has begun efforts to help farmers in the affected areas and has set up a damage-indemnity committee in order to help find some compensation for those farmers affected by the floods.

Floods from the heavy rainfall have been made worse in those towns and cities situated near the mountainous regions of Iran. For example, the city of Kut, the capital of the Wasit province, has suffered from flooding coming directly from the Iranian highlands. According to the Iarqi red Crescent, 4 people have been killed as a result of floods, where their house collapsed. They also reported that 50 houses collapsed and 248 families were hurt in Wasit and Maysan.

Source: Unitar (PDF Map); Al Monitor

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